Q&A: 2016 US Olympic Trials System, With OSC Chairman Ben Richardson
December 16, 2014
Benjamin Richardson (Gloucester, Mass.), Chairman of the US Olympic Sailing Committee (OSC), checks in with some thoughts on the just-released selection system (also known as the Olympic trials) for the sailing events of Rio 2016:
From 2008 to 2012, the US went from a one-event domestic selection system to a two-event international system that tested athletes against the world’s best as well as their US competitors. How does the Rio 2016 system compare to the London 2012 system?
Richardson: “We [the OSC] felt that there was a lot we got right with our selection process last time around and remained committed to using multiple international regattas to provide a large sample of racing in highly competitive fleets, but that we needed to change a few things. In 2012, the first qualification event was probably too early in the Olympic quadrennium, and the system ended early. Our focus this time was to keep more athletes training hard until 2016 and select the team in what we feel is an optimum timeframe in the first part of the Games year. Finally, we wanted to approach each class differently based on its own schedule.”
Describe the selection events for Rio 2016.
Richardson: “These are regattas that anyone training full-time for the Olympic Games will go to anyway, selection event or not. One of our guiding principles was not to let the Olympic Trials process get in the way of our athletes succeeding at The Games. We didn’t want the regattas involved in the selection process to be a distraction.”
How did domestic events factor into forming the Rio 2016 selection process?
Richardson: “There is no question that our hope was to include a domestic regatta as part of the trials process for as many classes as we could. Given that we have a great international regatta like ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami that we host here in the US, it became the obvious default domestic event for us to work with. Only in the case of the 470’s did we not include a domestic event, due to the proximity of ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami to the 470 World Championships in 2016.
How does our selection process for Rio 2016 compare to that of other nations?
Richardson: “The OSC elected not to use a discretionary or committee-based selection system for Rio 2016, as several other countries will do. Our team will be determined exclusively by results at top-tier events in early 2016. We had one goal in this process, and that was to implement a fair selection system that allows the top fifteen athletes to distinguish themselves while giving them the best chance of success in Rio 2016.
What should people know about how the Olympic Trials system is determined?
Richardson: “The OSC has been working on the US Olympic Team selection criteria for close to two years. We came to several conclusions that we felt strongly about, and we are confident in the selection criteria that has been released.”
Benjamin Richardson (Gloucester, Mass.), Chairman of the US Olympic Sailing Committee (OSC).